Hello Kaiel, all,
I understand how we can doubt the accounts of people remembering their past lives. It is possible to doubt them by saying that those are merely imaginations, hallucinations or has some kind of bio-chemical cause (illegal drugs
) in the brain. You know, if a person is placed in sensory-deprivation room and/or has oxygen deprivation, certain kind of visions are possible. But are such kind of visions trustworthy?
I understand that at least some cases of little children remembering their previous life and being able to say things that they couldn’t have possibly know be argued away as fraud (by their parents, society, researcher, etc
), or some sort of extra-temporal case of telepathy or remote viewing that those kids mistook for their own lives…
What I believe is the way to prove or disprove rebirth is in what I will write below:
Does mental state depend, is conditioned or require previous mental states? Of course it goes without saying that current physical/material state does and can play a certain role. The question is if 100% physical state is sufficient for mental state, or does mental state require in addition to physical things previous mental states? Do ten fetters that bind one to samsara originate at physical birth? If they are due to physical causes only, then what prevents these 10 fetters from originating in Arahant if there were certain physical events? Would injecting Arahant with testosterone, adrenalin, altering brain areas responsible for libido/anger/mood, or whatever, create unwholesome mental states for an Arahant? And conversely, is drugging a person and/or altering brain structure to pacify one and remove all anger and greed create an Arahant?
If current mental state requires and is conditioned by previous mental state (and not just matter), and previous mental state is conditioned by an earlier one, then that means that the first instance of mental state of baby-in-the-womb is conditioned by previous mental state. Those previous mental states can only be in the former life, before this baby with its body was even conceived.
This question of “is mental state conditioned also by previous mental states, not just physical
” is of crucial practical importance. If a mental state can be totally independent of previous mental states, ie has bio-chemical cause, then mental practice would make no sense for no previous mental state could influence the current one, hormones would. One could, in theory, become totally deluded under the influence of physical causes even though one was a wise saint before. One could totally change in either way merely due to physical causes. Previous good or bad mental skills would then play no role if it is all due to hormones, chemistry, biology, and other similar physical causes rather than previous mental development.
So the argument in favor or against rebirth is better done regarding the necessity of previous state of mind and mental development, for the present state of mind. According to the Buddha, previous mental state does affect the current one. The ten fetters and underlying tendencies are mental (nāma) in original and caused by ignorance (avijjā), not due to physical (rūpa) causes.
So how does a newborn baby get them at the first conscious moment? Not from physical causes, but from previous development of wholesome or unwholesome mental qualities.
So all the fetters are not due to physical causes, thus it is Noble Eightfold path, not Noble Chemical path.
1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
With best wishes,